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February 23, 2003 15:59 IST
Zimbabwe's leading batsman Andy Flower may play cricket in Australia.
Flower said he is close to signing a deal with an unidentified Australian state team.
"I'd love to come and play cricket in the domestic competition in Australia," Flower told Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper on Sunday.
"Obviously, things are a bit difficult here at the moment and I'd enjoy having a playing stint there and having temporary residence there.
"I've had some discussions and to be honest it is something I'd like to do. The talks I've had have been very positive and the appeal is very obvious.
"Right now the focus is on other other things, with everything that is going on. But playing playing in Australia for six months is looking like a real possibility."
English county side Hampshire have said they will continue to stand by Shane Warne despite the Australia leg-spinner's 12 month ban for a doping offence.
Warne signed a two-year contract with the club for the 2003 season and was set to captain the side.
But Hampshire chairman Rod Brangsgrove made it clear that, whatever the outcome of his appeal, Warne would still be welcome in 2004 in the event his ban was upheld.
"We continue to stand by him and look forward to having him at the Rose Bowl in 2004, such is the standing of the man.
"We will have to await the outcome of the appeal," said Bransgrove.
"But we have to look at contingency plans in case Shane does not get this verdict overturned and have already put some into place. That will have a lot to do with Paul Terry, the team manager."
Australia has chosen its replacement for Shane Warne. It's probably Nathan Hauritz, maybe Michael Clarke. Stuart MacGill?
His identity will remain a mystery for a few days with the Australian Cricket Board believed to be waiting for more news of Warne's likely appeal against his 12-month ban for a drug offence before announcing a replacement.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns have picked their man -- but it's understood not even the player knows who he is.
"There are still things we have to work through as far as a replacement goes," Ponting said today.
"We're getting pretty close. We're down to that person but there are a lot of other things that go with it, with Warney's appeal hearing coming up and everything.
"There are a lot of issues to work through before that person will be named."
Zimbabwe cricketers Andy Flower and Henry Olonga were today warned they face sacking from their country's World Cup squad if they continue their black armband protest in the match against Australia on Monday.
The two men were called separately to attend a specially convened meeting of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) executive board here and emerged grim-faced after being told to abandon their protest.
Olonga and Flower won world-wide praise for their courage when they wore black armbands in their country's opening World Cup clash against Namibia on February 10 and issued a powerfully-worded statement condemning the regime of president Robert Mugabe and the deteriorating conditions in the country.
Flower and Olonga had been reported to the International Cricket Council by their own federation but the world governing body decided not take action against the pair.
In the match against India, the duo, having been told to drop the armbands, donned highly-prominent wristbands instead.
"I expected the matter to be dealt with after the tournament," said Flower.
"But I can't comment on the meeting today."
As controversy continues over the United Cricket Board's (UCB) whitewashing of the drunken antics of its president, Percy Sonn, the board's chief executive, Gerald Majola, confirmed on Friday that KwaZulu-Natal cricketer Errol Stewart would never play cricket for his country again.
"It wasn't an executive decision," said Majola. "It's my own opinion."
Stewart, picked for the recent South Africa 'A' tour of Zimbabwe, made himself unavailable for moral and political reasons.
Until now, the UCB has not taken an official stand on the matter, but Majola said he had personally instructed the selectors never to consider Stewart again because he had made himself unavailable for "no good reason" and that he had failed to consult with the UCB over his decision.
Majola said there were no "double-standards" relating to the Sonn and Stewart decisions.
Shane Warne would be targeting next year's tour to India if he decides to play on after the expiry of his 12-month drug ban. One of world cricket's highest profile players was put out of the game on Saturday for 12 months for testing positive to banned diuretic drugs.
He said he intended to lodge an appeal against the Australian Cricket Board's anti-doping panel decision.
He was expected to take his case to the National Disputes Centre, a conglomerate of the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association, Sports Industry Australia and the Australian Sports Commission.
The 12-month ban, ending on February 10, 2004, covers the current World Cup in southern Africa and Australia's four-Test series in the Caribbean against the West Indies, starting on April 10.
He will also miss the two-Test home series against Bangladesh in July and August and next (southern) summer's home Test series against either Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka and India, as well as the away series against Sri Lanka in February next year.